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Opening Arguments

Same day

Is this too pessimistic -- will Amazon's push for same-day delivery really, as the headline predicts, "destroy local retail"?

It’s hard to overstate how thoroughly this move will shake up the retail industry. Same-day delivery has long been the holy grail of Internet retailers, something that dozens of startups have tried and failed to accomplish. (Remember Kozmo.com?) But Amazon is investing billions to make next-day delivery standard, and same-day delivery an option for lots of customers. If it can pull that off, the company will permanently alter how we shop. To put it more bluntly: Physical retailers will be hosed.

I shop more all the time online -- not as much as I do in brick-and-mortar stores yet, but getting close, and same-day delivery would likely send me over the top. So I can see the significance of the change -- it might not wipe out local retail (some things we'll still want to see and touch before we buy, and there is a certain social aspect we might not want to completely give up), but it would put a serious dent in it.

The question no one seems to be asking is: Would this really be so bad? It's generally expected that a free and robust economy will have a lot of "creative destruction" with some jobs being lost while others are created -- no more telephone operators, for example, but more jobs in the computer field all the time. Why should retail be exempt from this aspect of capitalism? Retail's nothing magic -- just the middleman to get goods from naufacturer to consumer. If we can get the goods cheaper, more efficiently and with less effort online, hooray for us. The retail workers who lose their obsolete jobs will find some other job that didn't even exist yesterday.

Or should we think about retail differently and treat it differently because it's such a significant part of the community fabric? Should we try to stop cities from evolving into something different as the commercial sector withers? Tempting, but I doubt if change can be slowed let alone stopped once it's under way.

Posted in: Current events


Bob G.
Thu, 07/12/2012 - 1:40pm


As the saying goes:

They (Amazon) might not wind up NUMBER ONE...but they're gonna be WAY ahead of whoever is number TWO...!

Stay safe.

Thu, 07/12/2012 - 11:20pm

Like dead tree newspapers, brick and mortar retail is undergoing an unstoppable change.  Only the Amish have much use for buggy whips, but leather companies have moved on.  Same day delivery of on line purchases means adding more warehouse storage and delivery trucks - so store clerks can find better jobs in the distribution trade. 

I speculate that Amazon is misreading the need for instantaneous delivery.  Until costs can be brought into line, purchasers will take standard delivery.  I admit that I opt to pay the $70 annual delivery fee from Amazon but besides "free" shipping, I get monthly free kindle books and free Amazon streaming movies anytime, included in the $70 something price. Helluva deal. 


Fri, 07/13/2012 - 12:56pm

I'll refrain from predictions, but I've noticed that most Amazon purchases arrive at my Fort Wayne home in two days even with standard shipping.

I understand that gallows humor has taken root at Best Buy, where they consider themselves "Amazon's showroom." It's a nice place to examine what you'd like to buy, but the product is always cheaper from Amazon. I'm certainly guilty.